Adhiban wins XXXV Benasque Open

by Sagar Shah
7/22/2015 – The 35th edition of the Benasque Open had 412 participants, with players from 37 different countries, including 104 titled players. It was won by the 22-year-old Indian player B. Adhiban with a half-point margin, ahead of Peruvians Granda and Cori. The winner gave us an interview and also sent us an exciting and instructive game that he has analysed in great detail.

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B. Adhiban wins XXXV Benasque Open

The Pyrenees mountain range in the south-west of Europe forms a natural border between Spain and France. Nestled in the heart of these mountain ranges and surrounded by the tallest peaks of that region is the beautiful town of Benasque where the XXXV Benasque International Open took place from the 2nd to 11th of July 2015.

A bird’s eye view of Benasque

Into its 35th year, the Benasque Open has already established itself as one of the biggest tournaments in Spain and Europe. This year witnessed the participation of 412 players from 37 different countries. Truly a global event!

The huge and spacious playing hall

There were totally 104 titled players with 34 grandmasters and 23 International Masters. Six players were rated above 2600, and Israel’s Maxim Rodshtein was the top seed of the event. After eleven gruelling rounds filled with fighting chess, it was the talented 22-year-old Indian GM B. Adhiban (2627) who emerged victorious with a score of 8.5/10.

Adhiban went back home with a beautiful trophy, extremely
valuable 16 Elo points, a 2729 performance and €4000

The tournament was very closely contested right up to the last round. Due to a huge number of entries, after almost every round there would be multiple leaders. The first person who could snatch the sole lead was GM Krzysztof Jakubowski from Poland with 5.0/5.

Though Jakubowski had a great start, he could only muster
1.5 points from the remaining five games (picture by Sylwia Rudolf)

Jakubowski’s run was stopped by the 2008 Beasque Open winner GM Granda Zuniga Julio who had a great tournament in Benasque.

It’s difficult to find tournaments where Granda Zuniga doesn’t perform well! He finished second and gained ten rating points.

While the experienced Peruvian was having a good tournament, it was his 20-year-old country mate Cori Jorge who really stepped on the gas. After eight rounds with a score of 7.0/8 Cori shot in to the sole lead.

With just two rounds to go it seemed as if Cori Jorge would win the tournament, until…

….he was beaten by the top seed Maxim Rodshtein in the penultimate round

As the last round began, four players shared the lead with 7.5/9 – Rodshtein, Adhiban, Grigoriants and Naroditsky. They were followed by a pack of six players on seven points. Even though Adhiban had the best tie-break score, it seemed as if Maxim had the edge as he had the white pieces. It was surprising that Adhiban played the King’s Indian Defence rather than some solid opening. But the Indian was in mood for fighting chess. Till a point everything was going fine for the Israeli player but suddenly all went down-hill.

[Event "Benasque Open"] [Site "Benasque (Spain)"] [Date "2015.07.11"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Rodshtein, Maxim"] [Black "Adhiban, B."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E67"] [WhiteElo "2678"] [BlackElo "2627"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2015.07.03"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ESP"] [WhiteClock "0:00:32"] [BlackClock "0:11:52"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nbd7 7. Nc3 e5 8. b3 Re8 9. e4 exd4 10. Nxd4 a6 11. Be3 Rb8 12. f3 Ne5 13. a4 Bd7 14. h3 Qc8 15. Kh2 c5 16. Nde2 b5 17. cxb5 axb5 18. Qxd6 b4 19. Nb5 Bxb5 20. axb5 Rxb5 21. Rfc1 Ned7 22. Qa6 Qxa6 23. Rxa6 $14 {White has a small edge here and against a strong player like Rodshtein the defensive task is not too pleasant. But for the first place, Black only needs a draw and hence there would be quite some motivation, even in this relatively passive position for Adhiban.} Nd5 24. Bd2 (24. Bf2 {would have been much simpler as after} Nc3 25. Bf1 Rb7 (25... Ne5 $2 26. Nxc3 bxc3 27. Bxb5 $18) 26. Kg2 Ne5 $6 27. Nxc3 bxc3 28. f4 Nd7 29. e5 $1 Rxb3 30. Bc4 Rb2 31. Rxc3 $16) 24... Nc3 25. Bf1 (25. Nxc3 bxc3 26. Bxc3 Rxb3 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 $11) 25... Rbb8 26. Ra7 $6 (26. Rd6 Nf8 $11 {[%cal Gf8e6]} (26... Ne5 27. Bxc3 bxc3 28. Rxc3 $14 {should be fine for White.})) 26... Ne5 { Suddenly the f3 pawn is threatened and so is Nd3.} 27. Ng1 (27. Kg2 Nd3 $17) ( 27. Bxc3 bxc3 28. Rxc3 Nc6 $1 $17 {[%cal Gc6a7,Gg7c3] And now we see why Ra7 was not such a good idea.}) 27... h6 (27... c4 $5 {would have been extremely strong as after} 28. bxc4 Red8 $1 29. Bg5 f6 30. Be3 b3 $1 31. Rxc3 b2 $19) ( 27... Red8 $1 $17 {is also very strong.} 28. Bg5 Rdc8 {with the threat of c4.}) 28. Rc7 Rbd8 29. Bxc3 bxc3 30. Rxc3 Rd2+ 31. Ne2 (31. Kh1 Rf2 $1 32. Bg2 Ra8 $17 {and with such active pieces, White wouldn't survive for long.}) 31... Nd3 32. Rc4 (32. R3xc5 Nxc5 33. Rxc5 Ra8 $19 {Even though materially White is doing pretty fine, all his pieces are badly entangled.}) 32... Ra8 33. Rd7 Ra1 34. Rd8+ Kh7 35. Rxd3 (35. Kg2 Ne1+ 36. Kf2 Rxd8 $19) 35... Rxd3 36. Kg1 {and White resigned before Black could just snap off the f3 pawn. With this victory Adhiban won the title.} 0-1

With this victory Adhiban won the tournament with a half point margin as the game between Grigoriants and Naroditsky ended in a draw.

An Indian flanked by two Peruvians – Granda Zuniga (second), Adhiban (first), Jorge Cori (third)

Top final standings (after ten rounds)

Rk. Sd Ti. Player FED Rtng Pts Rp
1 4 GM Adhiban B. IND 2627 8.5 2729
2 3 GM Granda Zuniga Julio PER 2652 8.0 2680
3 5 GM Cori Jorge PER 2623 8.0 2677
4 6 GM Naroditsky Daniel USA 2622 8.0 2656
5 7 GM Grigoriants Sergey RUS 2594 8.0 2650
6 8 GM Romanov Evgeny RUS 2575 8.0 2635
7 20 GM Baron Tal ISR 2509 8.0 2604
8 1 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2678 7.5 2618
9 17 GM Kharitonov Alexandr RUS 2536 7.5 2600
10 13 GM Gretarsson Steinn ISL 2559 7.5 2580
11 12 GM Jakubowski Krzysztof POL 2565 7.5 2577
12 19 GM Antal Gergely HUN 2512 7.5 2570
13 2 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2664 7.5 2562
14 22 GM Shyam Sundar M. IND 2492 7.5 2515
15 21 GM Mogranzini Roberto ITA 2497 7.5 2522
16 41 GM Bykhovsky Avigdor RUS 2419 7.5 2349

After the tournament ended, Adhiban spent some time relaxing in Benasque and prepared for his upcoming tournament in Biel. In between he found time to answer few questions, sent us some nice pictures and also annotated a game for the readers of ChessBase.

Sagar Shah: Adhiban, how does it feel to win a strong tournament like Benasque Open?

B. Adhiban: It feels pretty awesome, and more so because I hadn’t won any tournaments this year.

SS: Going into the last round there were four players on 7.5. Though you had the best tie-break, you were black against Maxim Rodshtein (2678). What was your mental setup before the game?

BA: I knew it was going to be a tense finale. Rodshtein had just managed to beat the leader Cori Jorge in the penultimate game, and so I knew he will be ambitious in the last round, which perfectly suited me, since I also wanted to fight for the title. Once the second board was drawn, I realised a win would give me a clear first place!

SS: How are you able to do so well in crucial games?

BA: Maybe because it’s crucial! Somehow I am able to keep myself calm in tense moments, which helps me perform better.

SS: Which was your favourite game of the tournament?

Adhiban vs Antal Gergely

BA: Last two games I would say. One allowed me to catch the leaders and the other to win the title! [Editor’s note: The last round game against Rodshtein has been analysed above and below is Adhiban’s annotations to his game against Gergely.]

[Event "Benasque Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.07.10"] [Round "9"] [White "Adhiban, Baskaran"] [Black "Antal, Gergely"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D70"] [WhiteElo "2627"] [BlackElo "2514"] [Annotator "B. Adhiban"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] {This game was very important, since a win in this game allowed me to share the lead with three others with a round to go, making way for a thrilling finale!} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 {This line became a fashionable way to meet the Grunfeld thanks to Anand's contribution in his World Championship Match against Gelfand in 2012.} d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Be6 {A funny way to provoke b3 or d5 which would weaken the a1-h8 diagonal. } 9. d5 Bc8 10. h4 $5 {Wasting no time in showing my aggressive intentions! Spoiler alert: I will try to end the game in a mating attack.} c6 11. Bh6 Qd6 $5 12. O-O-O {Ideally I would have preferred to take on g7 and continue with 0-0-0, but Black's last move was aimed at preventing it.} (12. Bxg7 Qg3+ 13. Kd1 Kxg7 {I felt Black was fine here.} 14. h5 (14. Nge2 Qf2 15. h5 Nc4 $13) 14... g5 15. Nge2 Qe5 $11) 12... Bxh6 13. Qxh6 Qf6 {This was one of the reasons why I would have preferred to have the queen on d2. Now h5 will take some preparation due to a possible queen exchange.} 14. g4 $5 {This I really liked! I badly wanted to play Nh3 since Nge2 wasn't really doing anything useful and also blocked the f1-bishop, while Bd3 seemed like a waste of time and allowed black to gain a tempo attacking it with Nc5 or Ne5 later on.} ({ The computer suggestion is} 14. h5 g5 15. Qxf6 exf6 {I suppose white is better but I wanted to keep the queens :).}) 14... e6 $6 {Panic!} ({I was calculating } 14... cxd5 15. exd5 N8d7 16. Nh3 $1 (16. Re1 Ne5) 16... Qxf3 (16... Ne5 $1 { was the stubborn defence after which Black might be able to hold with precise play.} 17. Re1 (17. Bg2 Bd7) 17... Nxf3 18. Ng5 Nxg5 19. hxg5 Qg7 20. Qh4 Bd7 21. Rxe7 Rac8 22. Kb1 Rfd8 23. Ne4 Nxd5 24. Bd3 $11) 17. Ng5 Qf4+ (17... Qe3+ 18. Kb1 Nf6 19. Nce4 Nbd7 (19... Nbxd5 20. Rxd5 $1 Qe1+ 21. Kc2 {and White wins.}) 20. Bd3 $18 {Black can't hold his position anymore.}) 18. Kb1 Nf6 19. Nce4 Nbd7 {If cd5 hadn't been included, this would have been met by dxc6 followed by Rd7.} 20. Bd3 Rd8 21. Rhf1 Qe5 22. Nxf7 Kxf7 23. Qxh7+ (23. Ng5+ Kg8 24. Bxg6 Nf8) 23... Kf8 (23... Ke8 24. Nd6+ {and mate follows.}) 24. Qh8+ Kf7 25. Ng5+ Qxg5 26. Qh7+ $1 Ke8 27. hxg5 Nxh7 28. Bxg6# {A pretty mate!}) ( 14... N8d7 15. Nh3 $1 Qxf3 16. Ng5 Qf4+ 17. Kb1 Nf6 18. e5 $1 {Clearance theme! } Qxe5 19. Nce4 Rd8 20. Bd3 $40 {and White's attack is very strong.}) 15. h5 ( 15. d6 $5 {was probably was also very good, but I felt opening the position only helped me since after exd5 the b1-h7 diagonal will be open allowing Bd3 with disastarous consequences.}) 15... Qg7 (15... exd5 16. hxg6 $1 (16. exd5 Qg7) 16... Qxg6 {with an irresistible attack.} 17. Qh2) 16. hxg6 $6 {Honestly with all the talk of about preventing the exchange of queens and giving spoiler alerts about a possible mating attack, this just feels totally out of place and I still don't know why I made it :)!} (16. Qe3 {was clearly superior for White. Black's position just looks pitiful.}) 16... Qxh6+ 17. Rxh6 fxg6 18. dxe6 Bxe6 19. Nh3 {White has a slight pull due to activity. But where is the mating attack that White was dreaming of?} Kg7 {Black just needs one more move to untangle, but I had no intention of allowing that!} 20. Rxh7+ $1 {Felt like the only way to retain some advantage.} (20. Rh4 {was my original intention, but I noticed that after} N8d7 21. f4 Bg8 $1 {Black is very solid.} (21... h6 $6 22. g5 $1 h5 23. f5 gxf5 24. Nf4 {And White's attack continues to the endgame.})) 20... Kxh7 21. Ng5+ Kg8 22. Nxe6 Rxf3 $1 (22... Rc8 23. Nc5 Rc7 24. Rd6 $1 {with very strong compensation for the exchange.}) 23. Nc7 (23. Rd8+ { doesn't work due to} Kf7 24. Ng5+ Ke7) 23... Rf8 24. e5 $1 {This was my only chance. If I don't strike immediately my position would turn out to be worse due to the pawn structure, and also the f1-bishop would be left looking stupid. } N8d7 25. e6 $5 {Do or die! The pawn can either become a brutal force or just turn out to be a brave soldier perishing for the mistakes of the king!} Nf6 ({ Black's only chance lay in} 25... Ne5 $1 {I was somewhat concerned about this since if I don't manage to create something the e6-pawn might be lost. But I managed to find a way to win material – or so I thought!} 26. e7 ({A safer option is} 26. Nxa8 Rxa8 27. Ne4 $11 {with equal endgame since White is able to win the b7-pawn in exchange for the e6-pawn.}) 26... Rfe8 27. Ne4 $1 {An important moment. White shouldn't hurry with regaining the material balance just yet!} (27. Nxa8 Nxa8 28. Ne4 Kg7 $1 {The key move!} 29. Rd8 Nc7 {and e7-falls.}) 27... Kg7 28. Rd8 $3 {This was the brilliant point behind not taking on a8!} Rxe7 29. Nxa8 {I was happy to find this line with some considerable effort, only to notice:} Nf7 $1 $17 {The computer finds this annoying move, after which Black regains the piece and is just a healthy pawn up! What happened to appreciating the beauty of the art? So objectively White's best option was 26.Na8 leading to equal endgame.}) (25... Nc5 26. e7 Rfe8 27. Nxa8 Nxa8 28. Bc4+ Kg7 29. Rd8 Nc7 30. b4 {with the devastating Rd7 next.}) 26. e7 {Only here my opponent realised that he was in big trouble! Actually I don't see a way out for Black anymore.} Rfe8 27. Nxa8 Nxa8 (27... Nbd5 28. g5 Nxc3 29. gxf6 {clearly winning.}) 28. Bc4+ $1 ({Also possible but less stronger was} 28. g5 Nd5 29. Nxd5 cxd5 30. Rxd5 Kf7 (30... Rxe7 31. Rd8+ Kg7 32. Rxa8 Re1+ 33. Kc2 Rxf1 34. Rxa7 Rf7 35. Kc3 $18 {with a winning endgame.}) 31. Rd6 Rxe7 32. Bd3 {This endgame should be winning due to extra pawn and the superiority of the bishop over the knight.}) 28... Kg7 (28... Nd5 29. Bxd5+ cxd5 30. Nxd5 Kf7 31. Rf1+ Ke6 32. Rf8 $18 {winning.}) 29. g5 Ng8 ( 29... Ng4 $5 30. Rd8 Nc7 31. Ne4 $1 (31. Rd7 Ne5 32. Rxc7 Nxc4 33. Rxb7 Kf7 34. Rxa7 Rxe7 35. Rxe7+ Kxe7 {Black has some chances to save this endgame.}) 31... Rxe7 32. Rg8+ Kh7 33. Nf6+ Nxf6 34. gxf6 Re1+ 35. Kd2 $18 {and the pawn promotes.}) (29... Nh7 30. Rd8 Nc7 31. Rd7 $18 {and Black's pawns start to fall like ripe apples.}) 30. Rd8 Nc7 31. Ne4 $1 {Material losses are inevitable.} Nxe7 (31... b5 32. Bxg8 {wins.}) 32. Rd7 Ncd5 33. Bxd5 cxd5 34. Nd6 {One more reason why I chose this game was mainly due to the brutal force of the passed pawn, which was the highlight of this game!} 1-0

SS: Was there a specific routine that you would follow during the tournament?

BA: Nothing revolutionary! I would wake up just in time before breakfast closed! Then worked a bit and tried to get some rest before the round.

SS: In this tournament, with the white pieces you opened two games with 1.d4, two games with 1.e4 and one with 1.c4. And with black you had two Grunfelds, two King’s Indian Defence and a Nimzo Indian. How do you play so many different openings?

BA: Maybe if there were more rounds you would have seen some more openings! I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Ivanchuk during the Spanish league last year and one of the questions I asked him was, “How do you play so many openings?” To which he replied, “I don’t know!” I guess my answer is also the same – I don’t know how or why I am doing it, but I am glad that I am able to!

A wide repertoire not only on the board but also off it!

SS: How did you find the city of Benasque?

BA: I had been here once before, in 2008, and had lot of pleasant memories since I was part of the Indian team that had come for an exposure trip. But this time surprisingly it was very hot, contrary to the previous visit when it was raining quite heavily. Also last time there were so many players from India while this time there were only three! So it was quite different. Benasque is a beautiful city and since it is quite small everyone seemed to know about the Benasque Open!

Somewhere in thes 16th century structures you can spot Adhiban!

SS: Plus 16 Elo in the tournament – that takes you to 2643. You are nearing the top 100 players in the world. What are your future plans?

BA: Next I will be playing in Biel, Spanish League and then finally the World Cup in Baku. Reaching the top 100 is just the first step – I still have to climb the summit but one thing is for sure, chess is definitely where I belong!

Adhiban will defend his title this year in the open tournament at Biel in July

SS: How did you spend your time in the week between the Benasque and the Biel tournament?

BA: I worked as well as relaxed a bit. Both were given equal importance. My main aim was to keep myself in good spirits!

Adhiban definitely in his element

SS: Thank you Adhiban for your thoughts and also for the high quality of annotations in your game with Antal Gergely.

In the past few years Adhiban has sent us some very nice annotated games. Check out his game from Biel 2014 against Solak Dragan or his game against Rinat Jumabayev from the Asian continental 2014.

Topics Spain

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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Vikingmaster5000 Vikingmaster5000 7/22/2015 09:01
Congrats Adhiban !! A very well played tournament by this awesome Indian lad.
excalibur2 excalibur2 7/22/2015 07:53
I like Adhiban!